Two Hitlers and a Marilyn – Adam Andrusier (Headline, $37.99)
reviewed by Louise Ward, Wardini Books
Adam Andrusier is an autograph dealer. He's met Liz Taylor and Nelson Mandela, as a child spied Ronnie Barker through his living room window (he looked much sadder than on TV) and has held a signed copy of Mein Kampf in his Jewish hands. These experiences, combined with his skill in memoir, make for an intriguing read.
Adam grew up with an eccentric father. Adrian Andrusier is a collector too, of postcards detailing synagogues the Nazis went on to destroy in the Second World War. Adrian is also an obsessive Israeli dancer, dragging his wife, Anna, and their two children, Adam and his older sister Ruth, to retreats and conventions that his family found excruciating. Adrian is energetic, self-absorbed, increasingly absent and young Adam worries what will be left of his parents' marriage once their children leave home.
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The book is made up of chapters that each chronicle the search for an authentic signature of a particular celebrity, alongside the weird stuff going on in the Andrusier household. As Adam grows up, he never loses his drive to obtain a piece of another person's life, even when he studies music at Cambridge University and has his sights set on becoming a concert pianist. There are subtle links between his father's performing prowess (his mother seeing Adrian's cavorting as always having to be the centre of attention) and Adam's own yearning for affirmation, to be seen as an extraordinary person.
The brushes with celebrities are fascinating — Adam suspects Nelson and Winnie to have had a tiff in the car and Monica Lewinsky sees right through his shameful ruse to get her signature next to that of Bill Clinton. All the while the child that is Adam is trying to figure out his place in the world, trying to make sense of his family's losses during the Holocaust, his father's eccentricity, his mother's loneliness.
Two Hitlers and a Marilyn is hugely entertaining — Adam is a writer with an ear cocked toward the absurd. He finds it on a regular basis in the world of entertainment, the cult of celebrity, in himself and the wildly oscillating love and exasperation he feels for his father. A read as out of the ordinary as the lives it chronicles.